Recent Change to Drink Driving Law

Recently there has been a change to the law regarding drink driving. However, this change won’t have too much effect for people who are charged with drink-driving offences in most cases.

The change relates to how the police calculate the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of a driver.

Prior to this recent change, when the police breath-tested a driver, they would have to perform a calculation to ascertain the BAC of the driver at the actual time they were driving. This meant the police would ask the driver when they had their last drink prior to being tested. The police would then add 0.016 per hour from the time the driver had their last drink for up to two hours, and then, if applicable, start taking 0.016 off the reading for each hour after two hours! This lead to a confusing calculation which alleged a particular reading at the time the person was driving and this was based on their statement to police about when they last drove and involved an arbitrary calculation.

This old system resulted in occasional problems for the police when the cases went to Court. Steve Preece, from Preece Legal, recently defended a client who was charged with drink-driving where the police alleged a BAC of right on 0.050. This alleged reading was based on this confusing calculation. Steve Preece successfully defended this client by challenging the police evidence regarding the time they alleged the driver was driving prior to being breath-tested. Given the police were alleging the client was right on 0.050, the Court needed to be satisfied that the police were completely accurate in the time they say they say the person driving. This was because even a difference of one-minute would have been sufficient for the correct alleged reading to have been under 0.050 based on this calculation they were required to perform.

The recent change to the law now makes the situation much simpler. The law now states that – provided the breath test is completed within four hours of the person driving – the reading as shown at the time of the actual breath-test is deemed to be the BAC of the driver at the time they were driving. This removes the need for the police to conduct the calculation mentioned above.

Does this change things for drivers? The only change is that someone who is breath-tested shortly after consuming their last drink may end up being charged with having a BAC of slightly higher that it was when they actually drove. For example, if someone had a drink and then got intercepted by the police and ultimately breath-tested on hour later, the reading would be higher when the test was done because the person’s body would have had more time to ingest the alcohol. This would result in the alleged BAC being slightly higher than it actually was when they drove. This is only likely to cause a problem when the alleged reading results in the person’s BAC being in the category above what it would have been if it was their actual BAC at the time of driving. So, let’s say someone was actually 0.049 when they were driving, but because of a delay in doing the breath-test, their BAC rose to 0.051, the person would be charged with drink-driving.

Obviously, the safest way to avoid any negative consequences such as illustrated above is to not drink and drive.

If you are charged with the police for drink driving, it is worth contacting an expert traffic lawyer to discuss any options you may have to challenge the matter in Court. Preece Legal can provide this expert advice for you. Call us or contact us via our contact page if you would like to speak with us.

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